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Unmarried Moms Face Greater Risk of Depression Later

It matters more than mother's age when she has her first baby

SATURDAY, Dec. 21, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A young mother's marital status increases her risk of depression more than her age at having her first child does.

That's the finding of an American study in the November-December issue of Child Development.

The study found unmarried teenage mothers and unmarried adult mothers had similar levels of depression in their late 20s.

The study also found the risk of depressive symptoms in young adulthood increased for girls who at age 14 lived in a family headed by a female, lived with a stepfather, had low self-esteem, or had poor verbal and math skills.

The researchers examined data from 990 women who took part in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth between 1979 and 1992. In that survey, the women answered questions that measured depressive symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, appetite loss, restless sleep and difficulty concentrating.

The study authors also assessed other aspects of the women's lives, such as family structure and socioeconomic background, schooling and problem behavior.

The findings highlight that factors affecting women before they have a child have an impact on their mental health later in life.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, December 2002
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